Singer Daniel Pak of the Seattle-based reggae band Kore Ionz traces his musical roots and identity to his native Hawaii
by RUTH KIM
When plans to play a wedding gig in Hawaii fell through for Seattle-based reggae band Kore Ionz, the band members saw an opportunity instead of a setback. Their flight already booked, its members decided to go ahead and make the trip and film a music video for one of the band’s new tracks during the weekend visit to the island. For lead singer Daniel Pak, a Korean and Japanese American and native of Hawaii, it all felt right. He was going home.
The track for the music video they planned to make, “Feels Good,” is part of Kore Ionz’s new work, an EP of the same name, that the group just released in April. It marks the third album for the band, which, though based in the grunge capital of Seattle, carries relaxing island sounds and vibes that are central to Pak’s identity.
“Feels Good,” in particular, captures the nostalgia Pak felt when returning to the sandy beaches and sunbathed warmth of the Hawaiian Islands. He moved to Seattle in 1998, and penned the song one cold and rainy night while feeling particularly homesick. “I just kept thinking about the island that I was born and raised on, and the song came to me in, like, five minutes,” said Pak.
On April 5, 2014 we released the Feels Good EP and celebrated Owuor’s birthday with a SOLD OUT show at The Crocodile here in Seattle. Prometheus Brown, Hollis, and The Cruw joined us on stage for an unforgettable night – see the recap video shot by Avi Loud and Bo Kim. Also performing on the bill were Two Story Zori, DK Band, and DJ Soul One. Feels Good EP available on iTunes and our online store.
Photos by Bo Kim. GET HIPBOCAMPUS
Have you met our manager Kizamu Tsutakawa? If not, he’s the one in the photo (standing next to our drummer and co-producer Teo) pointing his finger at you! He wants to invite you to our first benefit concert of the year at Seattle Central Community College on Thursday, February 27 – all proceeds will go towards the renovation of his grandfather’s fountain which was installed on the campus in 1973.
George Tsutakawa (1910-1997) was a Japanese American painter, sculptor, and fountain maker. With bronze fountain installations in cities throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan, he is among the most influential figures in modern Asian American art, awarded the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun decoration by the Emperor of Japan in 1981. In a 1978 interview he explained his fascination with fountains:
“Our sense of continuity and rhythm is universal in water. Even in childhood I was interested in running water, in the recycling process of water. I remember Mark Tobey talking to me about the life cycle of the universe and the fact that water moves about endlessly in its various forms, vapor, ice drops forming in the clouds to be released into the rivers. This recycling always fascinated me.”
Memory and Interlude: An Evening of Music with the Tsutakawas goes down on Thursday, February 27 at 7:30pm at the Broadway Performance Hall on the Seattle Central Community College campus. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds go to the Tsutakawa Fountain Renovation Fund. Help restore the fountain today!
Next Door, Honolulu, November 2013. Photo by Terrence Jeffrey Santos.
It’s that time again. The end of another year and the promise of a whole new beginning. A time of reflection, of reconnection, and of resolution! And with that, we thought we’d share five stories from 2013 that have got us really excited about 2014. Happy New Year!
5. Shaggy Sings Along
This story came to us from our braddah David Meligro who works with da808music, the biggest promoter of island and reggae music in Seattle. The week before Thanksgiving, he emceed the Shaggy album release party at Snoqualmie Casino and posted this on our Facebook Page the next day:
“After the show was when I had my feel good moment…LOL. Shaggy’s tour bus wasn’t ready to go yet so we had the pleasure of giving them a ride back to their hotel! As we got onto the freeway, Kore Ionz “First Avenue” came on the stereo of braddah Thomas Yamada’s Suburban. The car got quiet and heads started to bob. Next thing I know, Mr. Boombastic himself started to sing along and was soon joined by his backup singers in full harmony. Ho braddahs! Chicken skin da whole ride back! I felt good for you in your absence! Keep up the great work guys, and we look forward to seeing you soon! Aloha & One Love!”
4. Sly & Robbie
In September we got the call to open for the legendary Sly & Robbie, with none other than Mykal Rose fronting the performance. What could have been billed as a Black Uhuru reunion show was an experience we will never forget, watching the drum and bass greats lock the audience in a trance from beginning to end. Teo got to hang out with both Sly & Robbie after the show and even got his snare autographed! Lucky braddah…
3. Love You Even More Better
In May we started shooting our second official music video, which we are stoked to release in early 2014. Featuring a remix of the love song that got us the most commercial radio play to date, the music video was shot and is currently being edited by Terrence Jeffrey Santos who produced the First Avenue music video. Shown below is the only still he’s letting us post from the massive amount of footage he shot! Stay tuned…
Just as Seattle started to freeze in November, we stacked up all the money we saved over the year, packed our bags, and headed to O`ahu. The trip was the most productive five days of 2013, as we were able to get in an `awakea with Professor Rod Labrador at the University of Hawai`i, talked story with braddah Phat Joe on Island 98.5, rocked Next Door in Chinatown to a packed house of 300+, and chased the sun around the southeast corner of the island for three days amidst flash floods to shoot another music video for an unreleased song called Feels Good. Not to mention landing an amazing story by sistah Jermel-Lynn Quillopo of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Plus, we had a lot of fun.
1. First Avenue
The biggest story of 2013 is by far the release of the First Avenue official music video featuring our braddah Prometheus Brown of Blue Scholars, who did an amazing acting job alongside the extremely talented Jessica Hu. Our very first music video was produced from front to back by Terrence Jeffrey Santos, who had the following words to say about our decision to play less shows in 2013 and spend more time in the studio and in creative meetings:
“The constants I’ve seen from many successful artists and musicians has been a high level of perseverance and the ability to critically analyze their own work. Kore Ionz has both of these. The future is bright.”
Mahalo for the humbling words braddah. We promise a lot more music, video, and live performances in 2014. See you there! If you still haven’t seen his work yet, here is the First Avenue official music video directed by Terrence Jeffrey Santos:
Yesterday at the end of our weekly business meeting over bacon and eggs I asked Kizamu if there’s anything else that needs to be done and he said, “Write a blog post. You haven’t done one in a long time.”
And a long time it has been – I realized I haven’t written a blog since we released the official music video for “First Avenue” back in May! And so I sit here at my desk thinking about all of you who continually support our music, the message, and the movement (I’m closing my eyes, trying to imagine all of you in the front row as we drop into the first song of a set) as I write this brief look at highlights over the last few months.
I still remember the morning of May 17th. We were up at 7am on just a couple hours of sleep and no coffee when we released our first official music video to the world. And I remember a huge smile came on my face when the first comment was posted by the first person to watch the video after it went public – one of my students from the Service Board. Tito Martinez. Mahalo braddah for the humbling reminder that we will always be teaching artists – it is a blessing to have the privilege of serving the next generation of builders and movers through music.
We have never seen as much traffic and as big a response as we did when the “First Avenue” official music video was released. Currently, it has been viewed in 103 countries and has generated more conversations (and sales!) of our music than anything else we’ve done. And so, in addition to the new music we’ve been working on in the studio, we have also been working on new music videos! We recently did our first remix of a song off World War Free and have been shooting the video for it in spurts throughout the summer. The final scene will be shot on our forthcoming trip to Hawai`i in early November.
We’re sitting on a bunch of new songs, a couple of which you may have heard live at the show we did in Seattle opening for Michael Rose with Sly and Robbie. Now that was an experience! Warming the stage for the reggae legends (it was pretty much a Black Uhuru reunion) was an incredible honor and very humbling. I remember hiding out near the far left corner of the stage, my eyes fixed on Sly as he unleashed each rock solid pattern after pattern on the drum kit. Robbie’s bass tone was huge and shook the walls of Neumos. It was surreal and I will never forget that night.
The new songs we played at the show will make their way onto a new EP that we are smack dab in the middle of recording and mixing. It’s been a while since we released some new material. Too long. We know. But with all the time that has passed we have been experimenting with our recording process, working out of three different studios, a cavalry of hard drives, and scrutinizing every sound that passes through the board. What you will soon hear will be different from anything we’ve put out thus far. We are so excited! This is a new phase for Kore Ionz and we hope you’re ready for a ride!
We hope to see many of you in Seattle on Friday October 25 at Nectar Lounge with New Kingston (Collie Buddz backing band) and Kid Hops, and in Honolulu on Friday November 8 at Next Door. More announcements coming soon. Much love!